Hume Liberty and Necessity

1026 WordsMay 3, 20125 Pages
Modern Philosophy (PHL 3200) Paper 1 Freedom, eh? In Section 8 of Hume’s Enquiry titled “Of Liberty and Necessity”, Hume wants to discuss what liberty and necessity mean and whether or not they can be compatible with each other. This is all really a discussion of Hume’s view of free will and determinism, and how they can be easily reconciled through compatibilism where for example both liberty and necessity are required for morality. He starts off by considering the idea of necessity and defines it as, “the constant conjunction of similar objects, and the consequent inference from one to another” (Hume 150). He wants to talk about its relation to what he calls liberty. He defines his hypothetical liberty as, “A power of acting or not…show more content…
So basically, Hume believes that liberty and necessity are compatible, because they really deal with different ideas. For example, liberty comes with a lack of constraint and necessity comes with the idea of cause and effect conjunctions. Therefore, compatibility is people have the liberty to do whatever they choose to do, but they can also be determined by their own desires to do something as well. Hume’s idea of freedom is radically different than Descartes. For Descartes, there are two types of freedom: freedom of indifference and freedom of inclination. Freedom of indifference is the freedom to assent to something without evidence of it or to assent to something obscurely. This is the lowest kind of freedom, because in this case, it can go either way meaning a good or bad outcome. In freedom of inclination, we have clear and distinct perceptions of something and you cannot help but assent to it. It’s sort of like God is somewhat forcing us along. According to Descartes, this is the highest form of freedom, because in this case, we could potentially be free from error since we’re going along in accordance with that perfect being. I want to argue in favor of Hume, because Descartes’ idea of freedom, doesn’t really seem to be an actual freedom, because some perfect being is putting these clear and distinct perceptions in your head, so there is really no choice in the matter.
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